Reality star Madison Hildebrand has been busy practicing his smiling and waving this week in preparation for his role as celebrity grand marshal at the Houston LGBT Pride Parade, which starts its route across Westheimer between Dunlavy and Crocker at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
"I was in a golf cart for Bravo at the West Hollywood Pride Parade, but I never been a grand marshal before," he told CultureMap during a phone interview from New York. "Basically, I think my job is to spread the love as much as possible."
As one of the main agents on Bravo's Los Angeles real estate series Million Dollar Listing, he described his evolution from broker to TV-broker to TV-broker-gay-icon as fairly unique and rather unexpected.
"It's great to be able to help people become who they really are and to show them that they can be young, successful and gay," said Hildebrand of his role as spokesperson for the LGBT community .
"On the show, I started out straight and on the next season I was bisexual and on season three I was gay. I'd probably skip the whole polyamorous thing if I could do it again, but the fact that it was all on national television ended up being an amazing experience."
Though he said it was never his intention, Hildebrand is proud to find himself a spokesperson for the gay community. "It's great position to be in, because it's part of who I am. We certainly need a lot of people in public who can spread the message," he said.
CultureMap asked how he feels being a sort of role model and how it has affected his daily life and lucrative work as a real estate broker focusing on Hollywood and Malibu.
"I can't live my life to be what people expect me to be, which is sometimes what it's like for those in that position," he said. "It's great to be able to help people become who they really are and to show them that they can be young, successful and gay. If that's the message I'm sending, then more power to it."
While this weekend will mark his first trip to Houston, Hildebrand noted that he has lived in both Austin and Plano, so he's somewhat prepared for what Texas summer heat. "Worst case, I can always just take off my clothes and dance," he laughed, adding that being asked to help usher in the Pride Parade has been a huge honor. "I seriously can't wait."
As this year's special celebrity grand marshal, Hildebrand will be joined by three other local community leaders for marshal duties— activist Jenifer R. Poole, politician Ellen Cohen and Nicolas Brines, owner of Azur Salon and Azur West.
Part of the 34th annual Houston LGBT Pride Celebration, the Pride Parade kicks off with 7:45 p.m. pre-show and an 8:15 p.m. start time. Also check out Saturday's Pride Festival, featuring a showcase of 200 vendors as well as performances on multiple stages, starting at 1 p.m. at the corner of Westheimer and Commonwealth.